Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When the Eidah Charedis Praised God for the Liberation of Israel

A rather disturbing incident occurred yesterday. One of my sons, who was wearing a white shirt in honor of the day, was playing soccer next to our flag-adorned car, while my youngest daughter was waving a flag from the window. My son was accosted by some older charedi boys who demanded to know what there was to celebrate. My son, who is only nine, came into the house to ask his mother for help, and the boys followed him to the door to belligerently ask the same question of my wife! My wife attempted to explain to them that Yom HaZikaron expresses our gratitude to the soldiers who gave their lives to defend us, and Yom Ha-Atzmaut expresses our gratitude to Hashem for giving us our country, for enabling us to build the very streets that they are walking on. It's a matter of basic hakaras hatov, she explained.

The boys were unfazed.

We wouldn't need soldiers, they explained to her, if everyone was learning Torah. We shouldn't be expressing any gratitude for a country run by secularists. And the streets that we are walking on were built by Moshe Abutbul.

There was a time when I used to feel pretty much the same way myself. On the other hand, there was an earlier time when even the Eidah Charedis felt pretty much as I do today.

The Eidah Charedis of Yerushalayim used to be known as Vaad Ha-Ir Ha-Ashkenazi. In 1918, to mark the first anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem from the Turks by the British, they issued the proclamation that you can see in this picture. They called on all the shuls and yeshivos "to thank Hashem for the redemption, and the salvation," and to say the prayer of Hanosen teshuah on behalf of "George the Fifth, yarum hodo (may his glory be increased)" and a misheberach for General Allenby.

It's a matter of basic hakaras hatov.

(See too the excellent discussion of Yom Ha-Atzma'ut by Rav Eliezer Melamed at Torah Musings.)

96 comments:

  1. I have to say, that story raised my blood pressure!

    I'd like to congratulate those kids for fulfilling the mishnah in Sotah about "chutzpah" being abundant in the days before Mashiach. To walk up to a person's door - to an adult, a mother - and press them aggressively like that? If that ain't "chutzpah" I don't know what is! Truly loathsome middot.

    Or like the Gemara in Yoma says: "[If a person is] discourteous in his dealings with people, what do people say about him? 'Woe to him who learned Torah! Woe to his father who taught him Torah! Woe to his teacher who taught him Torah!' "

    IMO, we need to plaster that Gemara all over town. Regularly. And make it required curriculum in schools.

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    1. Nah, they'll just find a Zohar or something like that which explains how the Gemara doesn't really mean you have to be nice to people.

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    2. Agreed. Kind of reminds me of the guy that recommended that adults accost 14-year-olds out collecting for their Yeshivot about their beliefs http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2014/03/conversations-with-collector.html.

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  2. In 1918, to mark the first anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem from the Turks by the British, they issued the proclamation that you can see in this picture. They called on all the shuls and yeshivos "to thank Hashem for the redemption, and the salvation," and to say the prayer of Hanosen teshuah on behalf of "George the Fifth, yarum hodo (may his glory be increased)" and a misheberach for General Allenby.

    They were thanking G-d for the British. Not the Zionists.

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    1. Right. Because there's nothing to thank the Zionists for.

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    2. (That was sarcasm)

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    3. The British Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were Zionists. (Lloyd - George and Balfour)

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  3. Very distressing story, but I am more convinced than ever that their philosophy, like all philosophies that deny reality will collapse in the long run.

    Just this morning, I read an article by Howard Joseph from a decade ago explaining the NETZIV of Volozhin's adamant opposition to austritt-separation policy. He said the Jews FIRST of all are a people with common bonds. Judaism is not simply a "religion" in which non-believers are essentially non-persons with no significance. In other words, the Jews are a nation and the Torah is their constitution. Purging these sick, galuti attitudes that Rabbanit Slifkin confronted is the task of all of us, (Rav Slifkin is among those in the forefront of this) and final victory is assured.

    Hag Ha'Atzmaut Sameach!

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    1. Speaking in generalities, the non-observant Jews the Netziv was contending with were not trying to change Judaism, or even destroy it. They just did not want to be bound by it in their personal lives, or in their children's educations, and they wanted rabbis to "stay in their place" i.e. not try to control things through politics, etc. But they were happy to be married, buried, etc. by Orthodox rabbis.

      Do you think the Netsiv would have opposed the Maccabees when they not only imposed Austritt (separation) from, but actively engaged in combat with, Jews who wanted to wipe out Judaism and impose Greek culture?

      R' Hirsch felt, with some justification, that the German Reformers were closer in philosophy to the Greek Jews than they were to the Eastern European non-observant Jews. That's why he wanted Austritt.

      Andy

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    2. Interesting point, but in Eretz Israel of the Seleucid period prior to the imposition of Hellenist values, the Jews were living in a Jewish environment under Jewish autonomy. The Hellenist Jews wanted to impose foreign values on the traditional Jews. My understanding is that the conflict between the Hellenists and the traditionalist only broke out when the Hellenists convinced the non-Jewish Seleucid rulers to IMPOSE Hellenisitc values on the traditionalist population.
      The situation in Germany was very different in that the Jews were a small, powerless minority outside of Eretz Israel which was under immense social, political and economic pressure by the dominant non-Jewish population and that many Jews simply succumbed to the temptations and pressures placed upon them.. As I understand it some poskim of the time (19th century) said that a Jew who converted to Christianity out of reasons of self-promotion or self-advancement rather than out of some sort of "sincere belief" could be accepted back more easly that a real "mumar". The Rabbanim were taking into consideration the terrible corrosive effects of generations of galut existence, which was very different than the situation of the Jewish community in Eretz Israel at the time of the Hashmonaim.

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    3. When German Reformers attained leadership of kehillos, they tried to impose fundamental changes to the Torah on the entire Jewish community, using powers granted them by the German government.

      So the situation in Germany has a direct parallel to the situation of the Maccabees.

      Andy

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  4. Yup, this is how their predecessors destroyed the 2nd Temple

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  5. This story is not surprising at all. In fact, we should be saying "Baruch HaShem" that your children and wife were only verbally accosted and not worse. However, there is a grain of truth to "We wouldn't need soldiers, they explained to her, if everyone was learning Torah. Because if that were true, the Arabs would have overrun Israel a long time ago, r"l, and all the great tzadikim sitting and learning would be refugees on the run or hiding in a Brooklyn basement somewhere, still blaming Zionism for their misfortune.

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  6. An interesting question: That there was a Vaad HaIr HaAskenazi itself was halachically problematic and represented a departure from longstanding mesorah: When you move to a new community you are supposed to adhere to its customs and not organize a competing community in the same area with different customs. The Jewish community of Jerusalem was 500+ years old when the students of the Villa Gain arrived; what we're they doing remaining separate from the much larger existing community?

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    1. Askenasi arrogance LOL

      -Dawidh

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    2. This is only true when an individual moves to a new community. The students of the Vilna Gaon (and the Chassidim who came before them) came en masse and maintained their own community. In such a case, they are well within their halachic rights and are in no way required to join the existing community.

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    3. Charlie, you should know by now that rules like "One must adopt to one's new community" only apply to others coming to your community, not to you coming to theirs.

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    4. There were legal issues with the turks not recognizing these new groups of (what you call) talmidei hagra came. For example the sfardic community owed a tremendous amount of money to certain turks (which they did not want the chalukah money to interfere with repaying. Of course, the ashkenazim quickly learned to develop their own chalukah system, the consquences are dividing us today.)


      Though i'll also subscribe to dawidh (ashkenazi arrogance) there were other groups of ashkenazim who came at the the same time (such as talmidim of the chatam sofer, various chassidic groups). The same thing happened to them as what happened in america -- the litvaks pushed their way in to predominate (till a completely new group of what we now know as satmarer took over rhe "edah".)

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    5. I don't think the Ashkenazim, who have the highest IQ in the world could've or should've mixed with the existing community.

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    6. Carol

      With bigoted comments like that, you more than justify the Anon's comments at 5.44pm.

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    7. Ruth, IQ tests are scientific, the scores' results are available to everyone. The achievements of Ashkenazi jews are well known. IIRC 6 Nobel prize laureate in 2013 were Ashkenazi. You are being irrational in denying the reality.

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    8. Carol--

      Please provide authoritative sources that show high IQ is a factor when deciding if one is obligated to adhere to the customs of an established community and not organize a competing community in the same area with different customs.

      In fact, please provide authoritative sources that show that higher than average IQ is a factor in ANY area of halachic decision. (IQ specifically, as distinct from wisdom.)

      Andy

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    9. Actually, Carol, please don't. This is off-topic.

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  7. CrisisoftheweekMay 6, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    @Charlie Hall, "They could do it..we can not"

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  8. Rabbi Slilfkin

    You begin to remind me of Wally in Dilbert.

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  9. I wonder if things have really changed. The proclamation could be explained by the need to feign allegiance to the new authorities. Hence the prominent reference to George V and the inclusion of military governor Colonel Storrs in the Misheberach. I don't have the knowledge of history to place this in its proper context.

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  10. Have you ever had a situation where someone hated all that you stood for, and created a situation that was intended to destroy your highest ideals; but, in the end, you benefitted greatly from that creation?

    The creators of the State, including Ben Gurion, and especially much of the Hagana which were to the left of him, wanted to wipe out Judaism. They created the State partially with this in mind. On the other hand, their creation, for which they made supreme sacrifices, benefitted all Jews.

    I wish I had the same unqualified joy and gratefulness that all of you seem to have on Yom HaAtsmaut. But the best I can do, given the above, is extreme ambivalence.

    Andy

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    1. To add to the comment above:

      I agree that I don't understand the unqualified animosity toward the State by some Orthodox Jews.

      But I equally don't understand the virtually unqualified love of the State by other Orthodox Jews. This is the same State whose creators desired, to the depths of their beings, to create the "New Jew", and destroy the same Torah ideals---belief in the one G-d, sexual restraint, etc.---that we teach our children to give their lives for if forced to disobey.

      Andy

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    2. Andy-You have to see things as that generation of Zionists did. They were tired of the sick Galut attitude of passivity in the face of oppression, persecution by outsiders and a distorted intternal Jewish society that was the result of generation of Galut mentality.
      When I became observant in the 1970's I could understand why someone would not want to be bothered by Torah observance because it is frequently difficult. However, until recently I could not understand the real hostitlity to it that we saw from certain radical secular circles.After all, Torah seemed to me to be beautiful and meaningful. However, after seeing certain Haredi attitudes expressed during the recent crisis over conscription I am beginning to understrand certain anti-religious attitudes, because if I lived in a community and the only Torah perspective was the one that these extremists were propagating, I would be in a real dilemma and wouldn't know which way to turn.
      You must remember, for much of the Jewish community in Eastern Europe, particularly after 1900, life was nothing more than despair and no hope for a better future under existing conditions, and much of the Torah leadership was saying "there is nothing you can do about it, just leanr to cope by learning another blatt gemara or say a kapitel tehillim with extra kavvanah. Don't forget, non-Jewish youth was becoming poltically active and they were trying to change things. Jewish youth saw this and said they wanted to do this in the Jewish community. Some saw the answer in assimilation and conversion, where they would be lost to the Jewish people, others turned towards Marxism and Communism which turned out to be a disaster. Others WANTED to be Jews and became Zionists, although they misjudged the situation and wanted a purely secular society, which can't work for Jews in the long run. But escaping the despair of the galut Jewish society and purging the Jewish community, both religious and secular, of the galut sickness which plagued it in areas the interpersonal relations, business ethics and social reform was , to me, quite understandable.

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    3. Yosef and what his brothers did to him. See Yosef's response to their apology. The Torah recounts two instances of the exact same conversation, in case you missed it.

      Next question?

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    4. I actually hope that you are correct. I hope that G-d forgives the creators of the State for wanting to destroy His Torah, given that their life circumstances may have led them to that conclusion, and given that they sacrificed all for the physical survival of Jews.

      But is there any precedent in Judaism where we celebrate people who wanted to destroy the Torah, and celebrate their institution that was partially intended to destroy the Torah, even if in the end that institution was beneficial to the Jews?

      I prefer uncomfortable ambivalence to comfortable and popular attitudes that appear to be suspect.

      Andy

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    5. Yes. The dynasty of Omri lasted 4 generations even though they tried to destroy the Torah and forced people to worship Ba'al. Chazal say it is because Omri built cities in Israel.

      In our case, it is an exaggeration to say that they wanted to destroy the Torah. They wanted to have a haven of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. That is already not the same as wanting to destroy the Torah. The fact that they left Halacha in the Old Country is not the same as wanting to destroy the Torah. And in any case, those very same institutions are in a very different place right now. 90% of Israeli Jews have a Seder. 70% fast on Yom Kippur. Is there any point in fighting battles from 100 years ago? The bottom line is like those who compared it to Yosef. And as per Yechezkel. We don't get to tell G-d how to run the world. If He chose this way, it is not our place to complain.

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    6. Do we now, or did we ever, have a day to celebrate Omri? Were Chazal celebrating Omri; or were they just being intellectually honest and saying that the evil man did have some accomplishments?

      No, it is NO exaggeration to say that they wanted to destroy the Torah. Please read their writings on their attitudes on Torah. They wanted their haven to be for the "New Jew", and they wanted ALL Jews to be "New Jews"--in fact, they did their best to only have "New Jews" immigrate to the Land in the 1930s. Thank G-d they also believed in democracy, and, with some exceptions, weren't willing to be vicious like the Yevsektsia Communist Jews in the Soviet Union.

      Jews in Israel keep traditions IN SPITE of the intentions of the creators of the State, not BECAUSE of them.

      I don't know what you mean by fighting battles of 100 years ago or or telling G-d how to run the world or complaining about G-d's choice; I never did any of these things. And I don't know what you mean by comparing it to Yosef and as per Yechezkel.

      I simply refuse to gloss over the intentions of the creators of the State. If you can, and you can celebrate Yom HaAtsmaut without any reservations, I envy you. But my sense of intellectual honesty does not allow me to do that.

      Andy

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    7. I hear you about your reservations about the original founders. They were not the people whom I would have chosen to create the State, if I were running the world. They had some very destructive ideas, which somehow turned into miraculously constructive outcomes.

      Let me explain the analogy to Yosef. The brothers sold him into slavery. That was evil and inexcusable on a level that Ben Gurion fails to reach. Chazal say that we are still paying for their crime. However, as Yosef pointed out: "You did not send me here, G-d sent me here, to save your lives"

      As to where Yechezkel fits in, let me explain that, too. In the Haftarah of Parshat Parah, (Yechezkel 46:22-25), it says that when G-d will have had enough of the Chillul Hashem that is Galus, regardless of our actions, He will bring us to the Land, and then, later, purify us. That is backwards, isn't it? He should first make us worthy, and only then bring us to the Land. But we don't get to tell G-d how things should be. I agree with you, we are more than a little bit ambivalent about the intentions of the original founders. But, like Yosef's brothers, what they intended, and what came to be, is not the same thing. If you believe that G-d runs the world, then you have to look at what He caused to happen, not at what they intended.

      And the fact that we don't have a party on the day that Omri founded Shomron does not mean that we do not appreciate him. It's just not expressed in the same way. Chazal appreciate his contribution to the Land of Israel, that means that people who are genuinely trying to destroy the Torah, AND SUCCEED, are nevertheless valued. Kal VeChomer those who attempted to destroy the Torah and instead not only built the Land of Israel, but also built the Torah of Israel.

      (For more about Yechezkel, see my blog on the Haftarot: http://www.torahforum.org/haftara/?p=322)

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  11. "I wish I had the same unqualified joy and gratefulness that all of you seem to have on Yom HaAtsmaut. But the best I can do, given the above, is extreme ambivalence."

    I'm not sure anyone has unqualified joy. Indeed, all joy is qualified. It's implicit in Hallel- when we cry out הושיעה נא and מן המצר. Purim may be the most joyful of holidays, and yet we don't recite Hallel. We do say Hallel on חנוכה despite the "extreme ambivalence" regarding the Hashmonean usurpers.

    Indeed when you consider which elements of Ben Gurion's vision have been realized and which have been lost to history- we have much more to celebrate.


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  12. This pashkevil (and others like it) are on display in one of the newer wedding halls in lakewood. I once was looking at them with one of the RY whose grandfather was mentioned in one, and he claimed not to know the back story on it (cause it is not politically correct today.)

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  13. The best answer I heard for this was given by Rav Kahneman. When Rabbi Kahneman overheard one of the rabbonim in the Ponevezh yeshiva make a nasty comment about the State of Israel the Rav called him in to his office and told him that the only reason why he could make nasty comments about the Medinah was because he didnt smell the air over Auschwitz. He didnt smell the burning flesh of Jews because otherwise he would never make such a comment.

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    1. R' Kahaneman also flew the Israeli flag from the Ponevitch yeshivah building, I believe at least on Yom HaAtsmaut.

      At the same time, I believe R' Kahaneman was a staunch supporter of the Chazon Ish, who cannot be accused of having unqualified love for the State (to say the least).

      I identify with R' Kahaneman's ambivalence; I believe it's the most rational, if highly uncomfortable, position that a Torah-true Jew can take.

      Andy

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  14. What should be equally disturbing to you is that your 9 year old son couldn't hold his own when asked a simple question. Can he explain Pesach or Succos on his own?

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    1. Would your 9 year old son be able to expain Pesach or Succos to bellligerent non-Jewish antisemtic boys who are not only ignorant of Judaism but raised to be anti Judaism? Think aboout the parallel and you will understand.

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    2. You have an interesting theory of parenting. When a nine year old is approached belligerently by two older boys, he should

      A) Launch into a discourse on the religious value of Zionism.
      B) Imitate Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, and engage in rhetoric to win the crowd to his side.
      C) Seek help from a parent or other trusted adult.

      This is an untimed open-book test...

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    3. Actually, it's rather comforting that a nine year old boy would turn to his mother for support when threatened and provoked.

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    4. The Jews make things unnecessary complicated again. If you ask a 9 year old Russian boy why he celebrates the 9th of May, he will have no problem answering that he celebrates a military victory over Nazi Germany that was trying to destroy Russia and enslave it's people. Simple and clear. Why can't a Jewish 9 year old boy give an equally simple answer that on this day we celebrate the victory of the Jews over 6 Arab armies that wanted to exterminate us? Because we, Jews, lack a normal sense of national identity.

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    5. Did you say your son was 9 or 19 ?

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    6. If you follow this link, you will understand why these 9 year old Russian kids from Crimea don't have a problem explaining to anyone why they celebrate the Victory Day.

      https://www.google.com/search?redir_esc=&client=ms-android-hms-tmobile-us&hl=en-US&safe=images&oe=utf-8&q=Russian%20kids%20military%20training%20crimea&source=android-browser-type&qsubts=1399468706230&action=devloc#facrc=_&imgrc=oHrGCjf5lybHrM%253A%3Bundefined%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fcdn.images.express.co.uk%252Fimg%252Fdynamic%252F78%252F590x%252Fboysoldiers-466582.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.express.co.uk%252Fnews%252Fworld%252F466582%252FPutin-s-Tiny-Army-Russian-children-taught-to-use-guns-and-combat-skills-in-training-camp%3B590%3B350

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    7. Greetings Madam Comrade Carol,

      Personally I don't think it is any of your business regarding the educational attainments or not of the Rabbi's son and some children will grow up quicker than others, but the phrase I believe we are all grasping for here is 'Chanoch l'naar al pi darko' & frankly my son of 9 would have done the same and actually what is alarming is the total disrespect these older kids showed to an adult, a mother and a Rebbetzin.

      PS- this requires no feedback from yourself, as it is a statement not a point of debate, but I want to point out to you that you can't bemoan Jews for not creating a national identity in one post after asserting in another that half of Judaism should not mix with the other half or go on about the superiority of one above the other.

      Just sayin'

      DK

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    8. You are irrational. The info was posted on the blog and others weighed in on the subject without you objecting. IQ differences are scientific and in accordance with the theory of evolution. You are irrational, once again.

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    9. Carol--

      I'm all for academic freedom, even to the extent of perfoming controversial studies associating high IQ with certain groups. But I can't understand what practical purpose that study has (we try to see people as individuals, without prejudice, don't we?) or what practical purpose you want to use it for?

      Surely you're not using it to assert your racial superiority, are you? Or to assert that G-d values Ashkenazim more?

      Andy

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    10. Andy, I'm not ignoring you, my reply has not being published. Please check out The Chosen People: A Study of Jewish Intelligence and Achievement
      Richard Lynn and draw your own conclusion as to its practical aspects.

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  15. Until the beginning of the previous century the Jews in Eretz Yisroel led holy lives. Enter Zionism; that brought in jewish transvestites, jewish murderers, a nation of Sabbath desecrators, jewish gay marches in Jerusalem and girls in mini-skirts walking the holy streets of tzefat. On a more moderate level 1948 brought jewish football teams, jewish tv pop stars and a jewish airline.
    Amazing, that's what we been waiting for 2000 years.
    Granted, I am looking at the glass half empty but are you really saying you do not understand that the Holy Chazon Ish was worried that by celebrating the founding of the state on this day, will in turn be portrayed by some, as a kind of recognition which in turn will lead to some charedim, maybe not in this generation but 100 years down the line becoming a bit diluted and gravitating towards.......
    You are looking at it on a superficial level hence you hold tight to your flag, the Charedi Gedolim on the other hand had more of a mature perception and deeper understanding of the matter hence they understood that not showing hakarat hatov on one occasion is a small price to pay if it can help to keep the masses from gravitating towards ideas foreign to Torah

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    1. Ralph -why don't you compare the levels of assimilation in America and the levels of assimilation in Israel and have a rethink? Or do you only care about Charedim "becoming a bit diluted" and not all of Am Yisrael? You are looking at it on a superficial leve by saying this is what Zionism caused, as opposed to a more of a mature perception and deeper understanding of how the State of Israel is saving Jews from assimilation (not to mention the threat of gas chambers). There were Jewish murderers in the galut you know. People who want to live holy lives will do so anywhere - people who don't, won't.

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    2. Ralph, you are making a classic Charedi mistake. Blaming secularism and current situation in Israel etc on Zionism is a typical anti-zionist charedi comment. I hear it all the time.

      The problem with this is that secularism preceded zionism with the haskala movement by more than a 100 years.

      From Wikipedia:
      the haskalah also resulted in the creation of secular Jewish culture, with an emphasis on Jewish history and Jewish identity, rather than religion. This resulted in the engagement of Jews in a variety of competing ways within the countries where they lived; these included the struggle for Jewish emancipation, involvement in new Jewish political movements, and later, in the face of continued persecutions in late nineteenth-century Europe, the development of a Jewish Nationalism. One source describes these effects as, "The emancipation of the Jews brought forth two opposed movements: the cultural assimilation, begun by Moses Mendelssohn, and Zionism, founded by Theodor Herzl in 1896."

      If anything Zionism saved Jewish secularists from complete assimilation.

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    3. Ralph-
      The idea that you expressed that "it was all Zionism's fault" is typical of the Haredi propaganda line that is constantly stated which, more or less says that " up unti 200 years ago all Jews lived holy lives and then suddenly, out of the blue, Jewish mothers suddenly gave birth to a bunch of evil maskilim and Zionists and they went and ruined everything". In other words, forget about changing social and economic conditions in the Jewish community, and forget about having the Torah leadership flexible enough and smart enough to understand these things, but instead just assume the vast majority of Jews are simple people who don't think for themselves, but instead readily fall into the trap this handful of 'reshaim' laid for them.
      Just remember, all the Jews today who are not religious, which is the large majority of world Jewry, had ancestors who lead holy lives, as you said. In spite of the beauty of Torah, today's seculars or their ancestors gave it up. WHY? In fact the same process that happened to these people is happening even to people within the Haredi community who received Haredi educations. It is time to stop spouting propaganda and to attempt to understand the REAL situation.
      As Dinah stated, there was a lot of corruption and hypocrisy in the traditional Jewish communities long, long before the Haskalah and ZIonism came along. Just read the TANACH.

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    4. The idea of not showing hakaras hatov to avoid diluting Judaism, seems like advising one to eat a treife hamburger or drive on shabbos to avoid diluting Judaism. Even more so when we realize that hakaras hatov and chesed is the essence of Judaism, period.

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  16. Natan; I live in RBS for 13 1/2 years and know without doubt that the streets you live on were built long before Monday Night Abutbol even thought about running for Mayor. That kid's words were those of a brain-washed victim of the worst kind of Chareidi propaganda.

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  17. You live in a crazy city. get out while you can.

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  18. This explains well why, indeed, all religious Jews should celebrate Yom Haatzmaut:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xc1yHTjBfnI

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  19. On another note, what a precious picture. Yehi ratzon the future role models of Torat emet. Rov osher ve’nachat.

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  20. David Ohsie's test for what a nine year old should do when accosted by older anti-Zionist hoodies:

    A) Launch into a discourse on the religious value of Zionism.
    B) Imitate Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, and engage in rhetoric to win the crowd to his side.
    C) Seek help from a parent or other trusted adult.


    Easy; B of course !!!

    As in: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears... Or, modified for the situation, Haverim, Yudim, landsmen, lift up your peyes un hip mir dayn oyern.... Works every time.

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  21. For those who haven't read about it yet, this year the Israeli flag was hung from the roof of the Ponovitcher Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, as has been the custom for decades. Only that yesterday, the flag was torn down by the yeshivishe "mechablim" faction and was burned.

    Draw your own conclusions.

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    1. On the contrary. Stealing a Zionist flag and burning it on the national holiday is the quintessential expression of secular Zionism. You can be sure that not even the most fervent charedi would dare do the same with an Ottoman, British or Palestinian flag. That they can, and do with the Israeli flag is in essence a recognition of the freedom they have to sit and learn- all subsidized and defended to the death by their secular brethren.
      Mass expressions of patriotism by the entire population without exception, is a sure sign of despotism. But the screaming and yelling, the vulger sturmeresque pashkavillim, those crazy protests with Holocaust imagery, the mehadrin bus shenanigans, the burqa fetishists, are all expressions of the rampant hefker freedom that charedim have have achieved. Those of us that wave the Israeli flag and stand silently during the siren are not amongst the עם חופשי בארצנו.

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    2. It was most probably hung there for that reason.

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  22. Imagine if the earth was invaded by aliens and the humanity united to fight them. After beating them off, various nations went back to their prior situation. However everyone continued to celebrate the victory over aliens forever. Wouldn't this make sense? I think this is similar to what victory over Nazi Germany or Yom Haatzmaut is. The only choice was victory or annihilation and slavery. This is our basic reality and destiny. It's not important if some think it's כוחי ועוצם ידי or ראשית צמיחת גאולתנו. Gentiles had their wackos like Mahatma Gandhi who advocated passive resistance to the nazies, but by us, Jews, the wackiness has gone mainstream. To me, being from Russia, Yom Haatzmaut is similar to the Victory Day. I have family that fought in both wars and I commemorate both in a similar secular way. Always did. I don't think there is a religious dimension to Yom Haatzmaut or Russia's war with Germany. Yeshayahu Leibowits explains this very well; I'm surprised that he is never mentioned on this blog.

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    1. So you believe that there are both religious dimensions of life, where we interact with G-d, and there are secular dimensions of life, where (presumably) we don't.

      Whereas to others (myself included), the G-d of the Torah claims our complete existence. Ideally, we would interact with him 100% of the time.

      Does this summarize the root cause of our disagreement?

      Andy

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    2. I like Prof. Leibowitz' explanation that only the actions done לשם שמים have a religious dimension. The War of Independence was not fought למען השם ותורתו, tberefore it has no religious significance. It was a secular act and should be commemorated in a suitable fashion. Just like Channuka was a religious war this one was secular. Similar to the Victory over Germany or the 4th of July.

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    3. Yehoshua's wars were also devoid of religious significance? David's? Surely not those of King Uziahu... yet it's in the Tanach. Your argument does not stand up to scrutiny of a Tanach-based perspective.

      The Jewish People are called "Tzva'ot Hashem" (in Shemot). We are always on duty. As individuals, one might say that there are acts that do not have religious dimension (or one might not). As a nation, we do not have that option at all.

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    4. Kira, I think your view is what professor Leibowitz would consider fascist. When a nations actions are considered to posses intrinsic superior value when compared to other nations and regardless of their context we have a fascist ideology. So to ascribe holiness to completely secular behavior is irrational. Fascism is irrational.

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  23. Three points on the question of ambivalence over the State, its secularism and ignorance:
    1. Ambivalence has become confused as a quality of piety. It is not. The Torah is unequivocal on the importance of being joyful before G-d out of abundance...and a sovereign state is an abundance we have lacked for 2000 years. The punishment for ambivalence over abundance and holding back expression of joy over it could cause us to lose it and suffer a lot more than we are "suffering" under a "secular state". (See Devarim 28:47-48)
    2. The many decades of free grants to kollel families and communities to build shuls and batei midrash is unheard of, in any other secular state in the world. So we frummers have not done to badly, on average. Now it's time to work like everyone else, there are too many of us to all be sponsored by the taxpayer, let's get real about it.
    3. I remember flying an Israeli flag from my window on Yom HaAtzmaut as a teenager. Frum kids, some of them children of parents who grew up in the mainstream, gathered below an enquired of each other what it was. "A tea towel" said one of them. With that explanation, they resumed riding their bikes. Woe to the generation that does not know its own flag! An entire portion is dedicated to the encampments of Israel and their flags. If the Maccabean Mi LaShem Eylay was the call to arms to defend our nation nowadays, these kids would think it was a call to the kitchen for dinner.

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    1. What's a "tea towel"?

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    2. Good points.
      as to point 1...you are aware that Judaism, especially chareidi Judaism, is totally indifferent to what the Torah says literally.

      I could point to a dozen verses indicating quite unambiguously that a Jew is expected to be working all week, while I challenge anyone to find ONE verse that commands learning for the sake of learning, anywhere in the Torah.

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    3. By "extreme ambivalence", I meant that I'm VERY grateful to G-d for all the good things you mentioned, and to those who sacrificed to obtain them. But the same G-d tells me that the creators of the State intended to destroy His highest ideals, and intended the State partially as a vehicle to accomplish this (thank G-d that most of these people also favored democracy; I think it was mainly the Labor party's desire for the religious parties' votes that prevented this destruction.)

      I ask again: is there any precedent in Judaism where we celebrate people who wanted to destroy the Torah, and celebrate their institution that was partially intended to destroy the Torah, even if in the end that institution was beneficial to the Jews?

      Andy

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    4. Ephraim- A tea towel is a British term.

      From wiki -

      "A tea towel or drying-up cloth (English), or dish towel (American) is a cloth which is used to dry dishes, cutlery, etc., after they have been washed. In 18th century England, a tea towel was a special linen drying cloth used by the mistress of the house to dry her precious and expensive china tea things. Servants were considered too ham-fisted to be trusted with such a delicate job, although housemaids were charged with hand-hemming the woven linen when their main duties were completed Tea towels have been mass-produced since the Industrial Revolution"

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    5. Elemir said... "I could point to a dozen verses indicating quite unambiguously that a Jew is expected to be working all week...."

      Anyone, therefore, who doesn't work on Sundays--the majority of religious and non religious Jews in Western countries--violates dozens of verses in the Torah.

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    6. yeah, as do all those poor forcibly unemployed, or me, who is retired and doesn't work every day of the week. how silly!

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    7. "yeah, as do all those poor forcibly unemployed, or me, who is retired and doesn't work every day of the week."

      indeed...! ;)

      Elemir, I was only refering to how, IIUC, you found verses in the Torah indicating unambiguously that a Jew is expected to be working all week. That leads to the "silly" conclusions. In fact the verses are talking about melachos, not employment.

      BTW, I'm only addressing your verse-proof. The notion of work itself needs no proof.

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  24. So you are saying that the material abundance should remove the ambivalence? And this is somehow a mitzvah? You surely don't mean it like this?

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  25. Carol-
    Leibowitz's opinions are extremely controversial, to say the least. I once read something a Protestant wrote about how they view Christian spirituality and he was always frustrated because it was always emphasized to them that they have to have a "sincere belief" in the one the believe it. There was a constant battle to be "really sincere" in their belief. Any sort of doubt, or self-interest was considered to invalidate the true "sincerity". What Leibowitz is saying sound the same. People think all kinds of things at different times. A religious person who gives tzedaka may in turn do it because he wants to help the person receiving it, or he can do it out of pure love of G-d, or he may do it because it is good for the donor in a spiritual sense. Does having in mind the first or third invalidate what he did? Of course not! Another Berkowitz, in this case Eliezer says the outcome of the deed is what matters according to the Torah, the motivation is secondary. Thus, I don't know how Yeshayahu Leibowitz can enter anyone's head and say "he didn't do this l'shem shamayim, thus it has no religious value". Certainly there were people who fought in the War of Indpendence who were religiously observant, so that should make it at least partially "l'shem shamayim". But, as they say, there are no atheists in foxholes, so does a religious feeling a soldier who is not outwardly Shabbat observant become invalidated by Yeshayahu? Who is he to judge these things?

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  26. Andy "asks again: ... is there any precedent in Judaism where we celebrate people who wanted to destroy the Torah, and celebrate their institution that was partially intended to destroy the Torah, even if in the end that institution was beneficial to the Jews?

    In reply to which Temujin asks: Was there ever a time in Jewish history when entire communities of Jews benefitted from a Jewish government by special exemptions and lavish favours and in return they and their leaders slandered and cursed that government and even the entire nation? One has not been able to find such a nauseating parallel.

    Israel never tried and is not trying now to "destroy the Torah," Andy. Those who repeat this slander...regardless of their stature... only shame and declare themselves incompetent and irrelevant.

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    1. Oh, Temujin, you know well that the Jewish People have not changed in thousands of years. Here's a nauseating parallel:

      "It's not enough that you took us out of the land of milk and honey and brought us to die in this desert, you also have the gall to attempt to lord over us?!". (Bamidbar 16:13)

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    2. Please pick up any biography you want of any of the creators of the State of Israel; or any book on the Hagana, Mapam, or Mapai parties. Read the pages that deal with their attitudes about the Torah, and their plans in that regard.

      It is clear that the creators wanted to create a State of "New Jews", who would destroy the Torah (Ben Gurion was a "moderate"; he thought Torah observance would disappear by itself, so less need to actively fight it.)

      As I wrote above, when Israel actually did become a State, thank G-d that most of these people also favored democracy; I think it was mainly the Labor party's desire for the religious parties' votes that prevented this destruction. So, with a few glaring exceptions (e.g. forced secularization of Yemenite and Holocaust survivor children on secular Kibbutsim), you are correct that the State did not try to destroy the Torah, and even supported it financially. And I fully agree that those supported should be grateful to the taxpayers and soldiers.

      Please read carefully, Temujin; I don't think I ever said the State tried to destroy Torah. I said its creators wanted to, and intended their creation partially for this purpose.

      If you can exhibit unqualified joy for the creators of the State and their intentions for their created institution, kol hakavod. But maybe you see why some of us have extreme ambivalence on this issue.

      Andy

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    3. Andy, this is a very naive approach. There were lots of people who fought in 1948 (and before and after) with a variety of motivations. There is simply no way characterize what this or any other large collection of people "wanted" as distinguished from what was accomplished.

      Undoubtedly a significant percentage of the "intellectuals" were motivated by a variety of anti-religious ideologies, including socialism. In this case, as in many others, they believed in foolishness that only intellectuals could be convinced of. However, what some or many intellectuals think does not define the "real reason" for the establishment of the state and thus cannot tarnish it. Were the religious people who fought at that time "dupes"?

      If any "purpose" can be divined from the actions of such a group, it must be based on the what was agreed upon and not what was disputed. What was agreed was to set up a Jewish state along democratic lines.

      Two principles in Halacha come to mind:

      1) Devarim shebelev einam devarim: what some people thought in their heart is of no consequence. What matters is what was done.

      2) Ein adam oser davar she-eino shelo: the people you refer to do not "own" the state or its establishment, and they cannot "asser" it by their intentions.

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    4. David's second point is very important and overlooked by Israelis. We hear all the time "Ben-Gurion built Israel" or "MAPAI built Israel" both from Labor party people and from the Haredim.. WRONG. The Jewish people built Israel. Period.
      Similarly is the claim that really bothers me "The IDF neither needs or wants the Haredim". Whether some or even all the Generals say that they don't want the Haredim is totally irrelevant. The people own the IDF, not the Generals, who are merely its servants. The people, through their representatives in the Knesset will decide if there is to be mandatory conscription or not.
      Another example of this thinking all too common in Israel is the belief that all the money and assets in private hands in the country actually belong in some sense to the state and the state has the "right" to confiscate this money through taxation and give it to more "deserving" people, that is he who is demanding it. I recall a case where a Knesset member complained that a payment MK's got for the shortened term Knesset (less than 4 years) was "not fair" and so he announced he was "giving the money to tzedakah". Sorry, the money isn't his, it belongs to the taxpayer and so he should have returned the money to the treasury if he believed he wasn't really entitled to it, i.e. to the taxpayer to whom the money really belongs.

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    5. Forgive me, David; with all due respect (and I mean that sincerely, based on your previous writings), it is your approach that is naieve.

      Every leader, probably without exception, of the founding institutions of the State hated Torah, and if they had had the power to, would have convinced every last Jew to abandon it. They wanted a State that was as devoid of Judaism as possible--this sentiment CHARACTERIZED their movement for a State. They discriminated not only against the Chareidim, but also the Mizrachi, in almost every conceivable way, until they needed the religious parties' votes when the State came into existence.

      You think the fact that some of the soldiers were Torah observant makes all of this irrelevant?

      Please answer my question: is there any precedent in Judaism where we celebrate people who wanted to destroy the Torah, and celebrate their institution that was partially intended to destroy the Torah, even if in the end that institution was very beneficial to the Jews?

      Andy

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    6. "1) Devarim shebelev einam devarim: what some people thought in their heart is of no consequence. What matters is what was done."

      They wrote and spoke prolifically, and created institutions including youth movements dedicated to eradicating the "old" Judaism, and building up the "New Jew". This was the furthest thing from a davar shebelev.

      "2) Ein adam oser davar she-eino shelo: the people you refer to do not "own" the state or its establishment, and they cannot "asser" it by their intentions."

      I never said it was ossur. I said that it is difficult to joyfully celebrate the creators of the State and their creation without any reservations about their intentions for this State, which was to destroy everything we stand for and would like to believe we would die for in a Kiddush HaShem situation.

      Andy

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    7. Andy, I very much appreciate your politeness (something I need to work on sometimes). It is not necessary however to apologize: if I put out a stupid idea, I expect to be called on it.

      Every leader, probably without exception, of the founding institutions of the State hated Torah, and if they had had the power to, would have convinced every last Jew to abandon it.

      I don't believe that this is true for two reasons.

      1) The socialists want to make a "new man" and the Jewish ones of course therefore wanted to make a new Jew. But not all the leaders were socialists. As Carol mentions, the revisionists were definitely not socialists.

      2) More importantly, the leaders don't get to define Zionism or the State. This is the "great man" version of history which should be avoided, IMO.

      They discriminated not only against the Chareidim, but also the Mizrachi, in almost every conceivable way, until they needed the religious parties' votes when the State came into existence.

      I think that this pretty clearly proves that the motivations that you describe were not that of the Zionist movement as a whole: they could not get the support of the people for a true anti-religious policy since the decision making was in the hands of the people.

      You think the fact that some of the soldiers were Torah observant makes all of this irrelevant?

      I think that it proves that the the shared movement was to establish a Jewish state. Various parties hoped for various desired results from this massive change in the situation on the ground for the Jewish people, but none of that defines what was fought for and achieved.

      Please answer my question: is there any precedent in Judaism where we celebrate people who wanted to destroy the Torah, and celebrate their institution that was partially intended to destroy the Torah, even if in the end that institution was very beneficial to the Jews?

      This is the mistaken premise: It's not "their" institution that just happens to benefit Jews. The ostensible and actual purpose of the State was exist as a place where Jews would be free and have first-class political rights. That is what people collectively fought for.

      "1) Devarim shebelev einam devarim: what some people thought in their heart is of no consequence. What matters is what was done."

      They wrote and spoke prolifically, and created institutions including youth movements dedicated to eradicating the "old" Judaism, and building up the "New Jew". This was the furthest thing from a davar shebelev.


      But the state itself doesn't have that imprint on it. The institutions you speak of reveal what was in the hearts of some in the establishment of the State, but doesn't infect it.

      "2) Ein adam oser davar she-eino shelo: the people you refer to do not "own" the state or its establishment, and they cannot "asser" it by their intentions."

      I never said it was ossur. I said that it is difficult to joyfully celebrate the creators of the State and their creation without any reservations about their intentions for this State, which was to destroy everything we stand for and would like to believe we would die for in a Kiddush HaShem situation.


      I was making an analogy. They can't "asser" it and they can't put a stamp of "badness" on it.

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    8. David and Carol--

      The Revisionists' attacks possibly got the British to leave faster. And they provided soldiers in the War of Independence. But they had relatively little authority as regards decisions made in fighting this war (that is, after they were incorporated into the IDF). Their organization and ideology had relatively little effect on the actual creation of the State, or on any of the State's institutions afterwards.

      As evidence, I offer the following: Mapai was in complete control of the economy, military, foreign affairs, and much of education and domestic policy, for nearly 30 years after the creation of the State. They also had a lot of control over jobs, because of the dominance of their institution, the Histadrut.

      Also, we are still waiting for justice for the 16 Irgun men (Revisonists) on the Altalena who were murdered by the Hagana (later Mapai and Mapam), and for the Irgun members whom they tortured and handed over to the British. This tells us all we need to know about the relative power of the Hagana/ Mapai versus the Revisionists.

      We can quibble over whether the Revisonists can be considered "creators", or just contributors. But it's clear that the major players by far in creating the State were the Hagana/ Mapai/ Mapam "New Jews", who wanted to destroy the Torah.

      Andy

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  27. Why do so many Jews - devout or not - have such difficulty settling down to the idea of a national identity and political self-determination? There seems to be a deep discomfort, almost an embarrassment of being proud to be politically Jewish. Is it because we have suffered under Czarist Russia and Nazi Germany that so many Jews in their own homeland and outside of it are quick to use terms like "Torah destroyers" the moment at which they are criticised and expected to shoulder some of the national burden? It is often more a case of finding excuses to sit on one's hands, less a case of genuine religious conviction. For Neturei Karta, who live a whole way of life in negation of Israel, perhaps there is a legitimate cry of "Gevalt!" But for those yungerleit who avoid training for a trade and going to work and end up collecting charity for a living, removal of grants to study free of worries and concerns is not an act of hate against Torah at all. It is the first step into the real world.

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  28. I have no problem with national identity or political self determination. I don't negate the State of Israel; I support it. I believe all but the outstanding Yeshivah students should not stay long term, and should go to work.

    I said that the creators of the State of Israel wanted to destroy the Torah, and intended their creation partially for this purpose, because the creators of the State of Israel wanted to destroy the Torah, and intended their creation partially for this purpose.

    Do you deny this fact? Or are you just trying to demonize those of us who won't gloss over it?

    Andy

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    1. Yes, I deny this fact. Herzel had no intention to destroy Judaism. In Altneuland he writes about rebuilding the Temple and reestablishing the sacrifices. I don't think the Revisionists had an anti-religious agenda.

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    2. Going back to our previous discussion, Andy, also see chapter seven 'How Ashkenazi Jews got their smarts' in 'The 10,000 year explosion' by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpernding.

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  29. Andy asked above...

    " is there any precedent in Judaism where we celebrate people who wanted to destroy the Torah, and celebrate their institution that was partially intended to destroy the Torah, even if in the end that institution was beneficial to the Jews?"

    Andy, your approach is wrong...first supply a few examples where such a scenario occurred and then you can ask if it was celebrated or not. I don't think there is any precedent.

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  30. Andy-
    Read the TANACH. The leaders of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, after they split off from the southern Kingdom of Judah after the death of Shlomo HaMelech openly defied the Torah, forbade their people from going to the Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem and set up their own religious cult with an alternate mishkan in Beit El with its bull (also one was set up in Dan). Ahav imported an idolotrous cult to this kingdom as well. In spite of all of this, the Nevi'im NEVER gave up trying to correct the ways of this kingdom and to bring the Benei Israel their back in teshuva and never negated the essential legitimacy of the kingdom. They never said like some do today "let's pretend the state here doesn't exist". They even helped these kings fight wars. Similarly, in the southern Kingdom of Judah, there were bad kings, like Menashe, yet again, the Nevi'im never negated the existence of the government and the kingdom itself and they prayed for its success, even while they criticized the people for their transgressions.
    Then, as has been pointed out, there was the Hashmonaim Kingdom in the Second Beit HaMikdash people period. The Hachamim of the period also recognized the legitimacy of the state, even if they didn't approve of the Hashmonaim Kohanim taking the throne and even when the kings killed the Hachamim. What Jews do as a body in Eretz Israel INHERENTLY has importance and can not be ignored or wished away in accordance with some radical "religious" ideology.

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    1. If all the assumptions being bandied around are true, it is interesting that Jereboam’s northern kingdom is technically the reverse of the state of Israel. Israel was FOUNDED by the anti-religious but ENDED UP being friendly to it. Jereboam’s kingdom was FOUNDED and legitimized by the prophecy received by Ahiya Hashiloni. Subsequently Jereboam, who started out as an outstanding Torah scholar, became afraid that Aliya L’regel would jeopardize his rule and so the kingdom ENDED UP being anti-religious towards the Torah.

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  31. Thank you all for your comments. I knew in advance that when I brought up this subject, I would face a firing squad of intelligent commenters. I have answers for each of you (yes, I really do); but alas, I also have a full time job!

    So I'll conclude with this. Let's say I granted that each and every one of you was absolutely correct in your respective argument against me. Don't you still have at least some reservations about celebrating people who clearly wanted to destroy the Torah?

    I respect people who say Hallel on Yom HaAtsmaut. I respect people who refuse to do so. Both have great poskim behind them.

    But I strongly believe that ALL of the above should have some ambivalence on this issue. The Hallel-sayers should never forget that the main founders of the State wanted to destroy the Torah; and that the effects of this spiritual destruction can still be felt in Israel today. The non-Hallel-sayers should acknowledge all of the great benefits the State has brought to those who observe and study the Torah.

    Agreed?

    Andy

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    1. Beautifully articulated Andy.The lack of nuance from both sides of this debate is always frustrating to me.You expressed it perfectly .The failure of many to acknowledge the terribly evil man that Ben gurion (and his ilk)was, is just as bad as the failure to acknowledge the chesed elyon that is the State.( btw This seemingly sophisticated approach is brought out wonderfully from the telz RY Rav EM Bloch in his grandsons sefer Meged Yosef parshas beshalach)

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